Posts filed under ‘supernatural’
When I entered 7th grade our school guidance counselor gave an introductory talk to incoming students that in some way invoked the topic of the supernatural. I think he was making a general point that there are things out there in life which are bigger than we realize, but I do not remember the details, it did not make much of an impression on me at the time. I only remembered the talk several years later when other events brought it to mind.
For several years in high school I participated in a creative problem solving competition and the same guidance counselor was our coach. Through the time we spent together travelling to events we developed a nice friendship. When I was in eleventh grade we traveled to the University of Akron in Ohio for the national competition and roomed in a dormitory at Kent State University, just outside the city of Akron. While we were there he told an interesting story to our team of four guys.
His wife had attended Kent State University and was there in the May of 1970 at the time of the Kent State shootings when four students were killed by rifle fire from members of the Ohio State National Guard. My guidance counselor and his wife were friends of one of the victims. Returning to the campus was a traumatic experience for him. Earlier that evening he had met some other coaches who were close in age to him and they visited the site of the shootings. I remember him describing a sculpture there which has bullet holes from that day. When they were at the sculpture they started yelling into the night sky in an expression of anger and anguish as they remembered those events and that time in their lives.
Somehow that story transitioned to another college memory of his, I think because he was in an introspective mood following his experiences that evening. When he was in college his best friend had a roommate who would wake up in the night and say things in his sleep. Allegedly he would sit up in bed and say, “Mommy, Daddy, Joey’s on fire!” in a high pitched, child like voice. When awoken he would not remember any details at all. Further connecting the behavior with the supernatural, he described one night when a group of students was playing with a ouija board down the hall and the sleep talker sat up in bed and added more details to his usual mantra, including the name of a town.
The following summer my guidance counselor and his friend took a road trip after graduating college and stopped at that town. They somehow looked up records of fires in the town, or perhaps it was some other detail they used to connect the sleep talking with an actual event, I no longer remember the details. They were able to locate the name of a boy named Joseph who had been killed in a fire along with his family. The two guys found the address and stopped to take some pictures. When they returned home after the trip and had the film developed, all the pictures but those of the fire location turned out fine, only the pictures of the fire location turned out overexposed.
Pretty scary stuff to be hearing from an adult late at night, but for me it got worse. One of my friends on the trip was a Christian and had been sharing his testimony with me for years. The thing that always surprised me was the way he described Christianity in very manner of fact terms. It was never, “I believe this or that…” but rather, “This is why this happens…” kind of explanations based on the bible and his fundamentalist religion. He was someone I really looked up and to this day may be the most intelligent person I have ever met. I asked him what he made of the story and in his matter of fact way he explained that the boys’ mother was a witch who deliberately started the fire the boy died in. The sleep talker had been possessed by demons with knowledge of the event.
While somewhat incredulous that he could know with a degree of certainty what happened in the spiritual realm, I was none the less convinced that something very real was going on in this spiritual realm he described, which up to that point I had been rather skeptical of. I did not sleep very well alone in my concrete block dorm room I was so scared. That is likely the first time I ever prayed for help from God.
To this day I do not know what to make of the story. While I am not especially inclined to defer to the supernatural for explanations of events, I do not know what happened either. Clearly there are many possibilities. I do know my guidance counselor was haunted by those events and they have affected him to this day. I know my friend with the supernatural answers has crazier supernatural answers now than when I knew him in high school. And I know I still do not care to delve into ghost stories or the occult, even apart from Christian injunctions against involvement with spiritualism. It is still a scary story to me to be honest. Man’s decent into darkness and madness can be very real regardless of its source.
I am thankful for many things this Thanksgiving, but would like to take a moment here to thank every single person who has posted a comment on this blog. I am grateful for the support, challenges, care, and friendships I have experienced through your contributions. Also to those who read and do not comment, I am thankful you find something worth visiting for and that you take the time to do so. You are AMAZING, the godless, the God full, and everyone in between.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6
I was looking at a map for a project at work yesterday and the name of a small town caught my eye. I had once had a business appointment there at the office of a woman running her own business. I got to chat with her a bit during several visits; she was under a lot of stress, her little boy was dying of cancer. As I recall, he had been in remission after undergoing chemotherapy and then the cancer came back. So infinitely sad, my heart still aches to remember.
She was a Christian and held out hope for God’s healing. But it was more than that, she was confident God was going to heal her child. She had been sold on a certain theology in which it is necessary to have full confidence in prayer for the requests to be answered. In fact, she had staked a lot in taking her boy to a healing service by a visiting evangelist who preached that message. Some of you may recognize that theology. The evangelist was the one and only Benny Hinn. I had not heard of him or the theology at the time. It was something that didn’t sound right, but what can you say to a mother whose boy is dying of cancer?
I recently read about the problems perpetrated by men like Hinn in William Lobdell’s book, Losing My Religion. An article he wrote on Hinn made it into the book (a lot of the book is from previously published articles). He writes about how despite investigations of people of like Hinn, despite revelations of misdeeds, corruption, and fraud, people still flock to hear them and give them money, holding out hope for miracles. Truly sickening.
“Sitting cross-legged in front of a big-screen TV, the 11-year-old squints through Coke-bottle glasses at a Miracle Crusade video made more than two years ago in which he starred as a boy who miraculously recovered from blindness. “I liked it at first because I thought I was being healed,” says William in the living room of his aunt and uncle’s home. On the screen, Hinn bends down to William, his hands on the child’s face. “Look at these tears,” says Hinn, peering into the child’s eyes. “William, baby, can you see me?”
Before more than 15,000 people in a Las Vegas arena, William nods. In a small voice, the boy says: “As soon as God healed me, I could see better.” Hinn, an arm wrapped around William, tells the audience that God has told him to pay the child’s medical expenses and education. People weep. Today William is still legally blind and says his sight never improved, and that his onstage comments were wishful thinking.
The woman’s little boy passed away not much later. I still think of them from time to time. I hope her difficult life was not made harsher through the experience of that “healing” ministry. I hope that it did not rob her of any comfort she and her husband and their boy had in his last days. I hope they have made peace with their God, and somehow found comfort in the midst of their tragedy.
Sitting back in his chair, Hinn shakes his head over how tough his job has become. He says being a pastor in the healing ministry is a profession he would never choose for himself, but he is called to it by God. “It’s not been a pleasant life,” Hinn says. “[People] think we’re in it for the money. They think that God doesn’t really heal, so these guys are just fooling the world. I’d be a fool to be in this for the money. If I did not believe God healed, I’d quit tomorrow and go get a job.”
Had a conversation with an old friend today who is very concerned for my soul. He believes in a lot of miracles which are for today, so we can see God at work. A lot of people get healed, prophesies are fulfilled, the power of God is known in amazing ways, often in Africa, but other places too. You really only deny them as miracles if you do not want to believe them in the first place, which is Satan’s plan, if you understand the spiritual realm it’s pretty undeniable. Think Todd Bentley kind of stuff. I would have listened with a lot more credulity and interest when I was in college, which may have been the last time I listened to this kind of talk at any great length. I quickly remembered why it had been so long, and why I had been happier with a more concrete kind of conservative theology.
I’m not new to this stuff, didn’t need to create new filters to process it through. But it still wore me out. And there is no satisfaction to be had in trying to poke holes in the stories. All that would accomplish is confirming in the other person’s eyes that you are hardened to the truth and deceived. I thanked him for his concern for my soul. I would have enjoyed catching up on things instead of talking about the benefits of supernatural beliefs and eternal separation from God, but that’s just me.